Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Grittibänz recipe

It hit me this afternoon while I was sitting in front of my computer... Samichlaus had not come by! A big tradition in Switzerland, one that cannot go unnoticed even if you live in Paris. I popped out to buy some ingredients and went to work.

Expat daughter would be so happy to find a taste of "home" for teatime. She still remembers when her school class in Lugano went into the woods looking for San Nicolao. He would be waiting to distribute a Grittibänz, mandarines and some nuts to the good children, the bad children had to work things out with his helper "Schmutzli" who was considerable less understanding. However, after reciting a little poem in honour of Saint Nick they would all walk back to school with a big grin on their face carrying lots of goodies to take home.

Here is a super-easy, fast, yummy recipe for Grittibänz:


Ingredients:
500 gr flour
1 tablespoon salt
70 gr sugar
70 gr butter
2 dl milk
1 egg
25 gr yeast
1 egg for coating
For the decoration: raisins, shelled almonds, candied fruit, possibly coarse granulated sugar.

Preparation:
1.) Cream the yeast with a little sugar in a cup.
2.) Place the flour in a bowl and mix it with salt, sugar, slightly warmed butter, lukewarm milk, the egg and the yeast to a dough.
3.) Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to rise to twice the amount in a warm place.
4.) Knead the dough again, use a knife to cut off pieces of dough in the desired size and roll out to an oval shape.
5.) Mark the head by pressing the dough together slightly and turn the head to the back to make the neck. Cut out the arms and legs with scissors and place them in the required position.
6.) Decorate the figures with raisins, shelled almonds and candied fruit and trim the hat with remnants of dough. Leave to rise and put in a cold place for 20 to 30 minutes.
7.) Before baking, brush with egg and possibly sprinkle with coarse granulated sugar. In a preheated oven, bake for 20 to 30 minutes at medium temperature.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Swiss Saint Nic is on his way...

In Switzerland, the tradition of St. Nicolas is somewhat different from the norm. Switzerland is a country of several languages so it is not surprising there are several different St. Nicholas traditions. In German-speaking areas Saint Nicholas is known as Samichlaus. Though he looks the same as Father Christmas, the Samichlaus (originally Sankt Nikolaus) does not bring the presents at Christmas. Rather, he appears on the 6th of December. Children visit the Samichlaus (usually at school or with their parents) to be judged and recite poems that they've learned. The other option - when I was little - was leaving your boots in front of the door the night of December 5th to find them filled with goddies the next morning.


Samichlaus is usually accompanied by a helper called Schmutzli (from "schmutzig"- dirty). He is dressed in a black or brown cape with a large hood. He wears a black beard and is smeared with dirt. While the Samichlaus praises the kids who have been good, Schmutzli takes the naughty kids, puts them into his bag and carries them away. This makes for a practical way for parents to make their kids behave well: "Be good or Schmutzli will carry you off in his bag!"

Fear not for the Swiss children. Described above is the original form. Nowadays Schmutzli is purely ornamental or even left out completely.

My kids used to visit San Nicola in the woods with their school class. Trust me, they never slept very well the night before.

Should you need a Samichlaus for your family you can check out the Chlaus directory here: www.chlaus.ch

The evening meal on December 6th traditionally consists of a man-shaped bread (called Grittibänz, recipe here), mandarines, walnuts, peanuts (with the shells), Lebkuchen and chocolates.

So, make sure you put your boots outside the door tonight and IF you have been good you'll awake tomorrow morning to find them filled with mandarines, nuts and chocolates.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The modern Third Culture Kid

Denizen is an online magazine and community dedicated to people who grew up in multiple countries, international school alumni, or Third Culture Kids (TCK). Third Culture Kids are the international nomads that possess the cross-cultural views and diverse experiences that are necessary in a ever-shrinking world.

Formally defined, TCKs are people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years (0-18) in a culture different than their parents. TCKs are, quite literally, citizens of the world. They are hard to define and are made of an infinite amount of experiences.

Last August Denizen conducted an informal online survey of more than 200 Third Culture Kids. The majority of respondents were female, with the average age being 29. They were curious about the lives of the modern Third Culture Kid. They wanted to learn more about who these TCKs were, how often they’d moved, and how they had aged.

To the most frequently asked question “Where are you from?”, the easiest response is always “It’s complicated.”


Friday, December 2, 2016

Swiss love Christmas crafts

The DIY-happy Swiss like nothing better than to make their own Christmas presents, or to help their children make them. A Migros magazine survey from 2014 found that for 73 percent of Swiss present-making with the kids was a Christmas ritual.

https://www.migrosmagazin.ch/_storage/asset/5809635/storage/master/file/31126465/DMHP1512-Famigros-Weihnach_3.pdf

Here are three 5 minute yarn crafts for Christmas that are fun, colourful and hassle-free to make with kids of all ages:


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Countdown Calendar

This lovely calendar has been posted last year but I do believe it can be reinstated every year. It is a great way to ring in the festive season and volunteer for a good cause.

Even if my kids' favourite Advent calendars are the chocolate ones from Coop supermarket, this doesn't mean I can't add another one this December. She Lives Free has posted a lovely Acts of Kindness countdown to Christmas printable calendar.

Ideally, you'll be holding the door open to a stranger or giving out free hugs more than once a month but maybe doing these acts of kindness consciously might spark the impulse to do more.

And don't forget, you can always modify the acts that don't feel right and replace them with your own. So, go ahead and start making some space on your kitchen fridge to hang up this very sweet Advent calendar.

Happy Advent!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Annual Family Fun Fair 2016

Don't miss the biggest event during the holiday season in Lugano. It's happening this Sunday at the Hotel Pestalozzi!

The 4th annual Family Fun Fair will be the best yet! A great family outing worth noting in your calendars.


There will be activities for children all day including a visit from Santa, caroling, and some workshops of interest to parents and children alike.

Learn about local businesses, pick up some holiday gifts, and visit the Food Court for tasty treats.

Each family will be given a Goodie Bag with a children's holiday craft, information for parents, and special offers! It’s all free and open to the public.

A special thanks goes to the main sponsor The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) as well to the International Women's Club go Lugano for the great support.

Venue: Family Fun Fair 2016 - Christmas Edition
Where: Hotel Pestalozzi, Piazza Indipendenza 9, 6900 Lugano
When: Sunday, December 4th, 2016
Time: 10:00-16:00

Take a peek at the programme:




Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Switzers - the 193 nationalities of Switzerland

Switzerland has 8.3 million inhabitants, a quarter of whom are migrants from 193 countries. One person from each appears in a new photo book "The Switzers" by photographers Reiner Roduner and Roland Schmid.

When Roduner read that Switzerland was home to people from practically every country in the world an idea was born: find an interesting person from every nation and take their portrait.

All of these people make up an important part of Switzerland’s identity. Identity is in constant flux and is defined by the people who make up a society. This book reflects what they have to say about their new home. Take a look for yourself: http://www.switzersbuch.ch


Watch the crowdfinding video:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

It's Thanksgiving week and it's a time to be thankful. The majority of dishes in the traditional American version of Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World, as according to tradition, the Pilgrims received from the Native Americans. What is known as "The First Thanksgiving," the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony (an English colonial venture in North America from 1620 to 1691) contained waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.

A few Irish people decided to test taste today's American Thanksgiving dishes and here are their conclusions.


To all of you across the globe celebrating this day... HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Christmas market at St. Edward's Church

Get ready for some Christmas spirit in the festive setting of Casa Benson these next two Sundays. Coffee and light snacks will be on sale after the service since the St Edward’s Church community love to socialise.

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine in a Christmas atmosphere whilst browsing amongst a selection of stalls with homemade traditional specialities such as cakes, puddings and preserves.


Venue: Christmas market of The Anglican Church of St. Edward
Where: Casa, Benson, Via Clemente Maraini 6, 6900 Lugano
When: Sunday 20th and 27th November
Time: 12:00 to 15:00
All proceeds go to the ministry of St. Edward’s Church

For more Information visit: www.stedwards.ch

Friday, November 18, 2016

100 faces of Switzerland

Remember my post from January 2016? The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) - who are in charge of promoting Switzerland's image abroad - wished to show the world who our country's ambassadors are. They were looking for faces of Switzerland abroad.

Well, here is the result highlighting the importance of the Swiss community abroad which by the way would be Switzerland's fourth biggest canton if all 762'000 of us were to be local residents.

One hundred people, from past and present, with extraordinary life stories, represent their home to the world and influence the image of Switzerland abroad. Their lives are multifaceted and their reasons for emigration diverse. Yet all of Switzerland’s citizens living abroad have something in common – their connection to Switzerland.

Participants were invited to speak about their social background and their professional career in the language of their choice. This created portraits of 90 people from roughly 50 countries and all five continents with different life stories, personal stories that also represent the history of Swiss identity. Furthermore, the lives of ten figures from past centuries are highlighted, figures who made a name for themselves abroad.

Get to know these 100 people on the website www.houseofswitzerland.org

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